An enormous collection of 281 film location maps from the mid-1980s, distributed to film cast and crew just in advance of their shoots. Ephemeral in the extreme, designed to be used for a few days at most and then discarded.
The archive represents a great swathe of mid-‘80s mainstream American film and TV culture, from The Betty Ford Story to The Witches of Eastwick. The best-represented productions are Crazy Like a Fox (22 maps), Scarecrow and Mrs. King (27), Starman (14), and the police drama and William Shatner vehicle T. J. Hooker (20). But there are also cameos by The Betty Ford Story, Blue Thunder, Dukes of Hazzard, Fantasy Island, Ghostbusters, Karate Kid, Witches of Eastwick and many more.
Each map directs cast and crew to a site in the Greater Los Angeles area, anything from the First Church of Christ to the Lincoln Heights Jail to LAX. Most feature overwritten notations, along with written directions to the sites, generally originating from The Burbank Studios near the interchange of the Ventura Freeway and Golden State Expressway. Many also contain helpful information about security, on-site transport, lodging, &c, &c. A few contain extraneous material, usually small pictorial elements, or even a bit of trompe l’oeil such as the use of a magnifying lens to frame a large-scale inset. The maps are executed with varying degrees of care and in a wide range of styles. Some are little more than scribbles, others appear to have been photocopied from street atlases then overdrawn, and others show a real commitment of time and talent.
Several of the film location maps for the production of Crazy Like a Fox are particular standouts, not so much for their execution, which is pretty minimalist, as for their off-kilter humor. Our hero, who drew up perhaps half the Crazy Like a Fox maps, is the anonymous “Kartographer” [sic], a White Sox fan and therefore presumably a Chicago native, and likely college educated. His (or her) earliest piece is for Sept. 26, 1984 and is entirely unremarkable. The first sign that something is up is the addition on a location map for an Oct. 31, 1984 shoot of the observation “A tree is a tree, a rock is a rock, we’ll shoot it in Franklin County Reservoir.” Then, on the map for Jan. 29, 1985, the “Kartographer’s Korner” appears out of nowhere with the following autobiographical bit:
“As you drive to Palos Verdes, you may want to consider the role of the Shopping Mall in our society. (You will have the opportunity to ponder some profound thoughts, as it’s a loooong trek.) Old Orchard was my first mall. Only we called them “shopping centers.” Marshall Field & Co. had a big store there. So did Montgomery Ward, although it was originally called The Fair. I learned to drive in their parking lot. My father took me out in a Valiant with a push-button automatic transmission. A cop stopped us, asking my age, which was 12 at the time. We lied and said I was 14. The cop suggested we wait until I was 15. Malls.”
By August 23, the Kartographer has gone a bit off the rails:
“Illusion versus Reality: Man’s Inhumanity to Man; the Mystery of the I-Ching. What matters any of these when contemplating the Final Outcome of the American League West. Angels? White Sox? Royalty in Kansas City? The Symbolism… August, waning; onslaught of Autumn. Will there be another season for the A’s? And what about the B’s?”
There are several more such “Kartographer’s Korner” entries, together constituting the liveliest prose in the archive.
Given their ephemeral nature, the vast majority of these location maps must have been used for a day or two or three at most and then discarded. In any event the genre appears to be phenomenally rare: A search for “location map” yields no relevant hits in OCLC or Rare Book Hub, and my source, an experienced West Coast dealer, claims never to have encountered others. I assume that in our age of smart phones and GPS, the genre has disappeared entirely.
The maps came from the collection of Art Ronnie (b.1931) and were purchased by the aforementioned colleague from a family member (Art is still around, but in assisted living). Art attended Los Angeles City College and worked as a reporter, television writer, records editor, radio editor, and book reviewer for the Los Angeles Herald-Express and Herald Examiner. Later, he worked as a publicist for MGM Television, Paramount Television, and Twentieth Century-Fox Television. An avid collector, he is also the author of two books, Counterfeit Hero: Fritz Duquesne, Adventurer and Spy (1995) and Locklear: The Man Who Walked on Wings (1973).